Stand On The Gas

This evening I attended a fundraiser for Shane’s Inspiration, an organization dedicated to eliminating bias against children with disabilities. Their mission is to create Universally Accessible Playgrounds and programs that integrate children of all abilities socially, physically and emotionally, fostering acceptance, friendship and understanding.

My father-in-law was honored with a Visionary Leadership Award for the time he has dedicated to championing Shane’s Inspiration as the President of the Board of Commissioners of the Recreation and Parks Department of the City of Los Angeles and Chairman of the Los Angeles Parks Foundation.

I had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking with one of the other honorees, the lovely and inspirational Cody Unser. At 12 years old, Cody was paralyzed by Transverse Myelitis, a spinal cord inflammation. When she was just 13, she and her mother formed the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, which is dedicated to providing quality-of-life programs for those suffering from paralysis.

Over the past decade, Cody and her foundation have formed a TM research consortium spearheaded by Johns Hopkins Hospital, and after becoming scuba diving certified, formed “Cody’s Great Scuba Adventures,” which buddies children and adults of all abilities with divers to get certification. Cody is a political activist who has testified before congress and lobbied nationwide for stem cell research, following in the footsteps of her friend, the late Christopher Reeve.

The daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., Cody follows her Dad’s words of wisdom to, “Stand on the Gas.” At 22 years old, she believes in continuously moving forward and living life to the fullest, no matter what the perceived limitations. Her desire to turn obstacles into opportunities is truly an inspiration to us all. Thank you Cody.

©Liz Dennery Sanders 2009

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